Point-of-purchase information on packaged food has been a highly debated topic. Various types of nutrition labels and point-of-purchase information have been studied to determine their ability to attract consumers’ attention, be well understood and promote healthy food choices. Country-specific regulatory and monitoring frameworks have been implemented to ensure reliability and accuracy of such information. However, the impact of such information on consumers’ behaviour remains contentious. This review summarizes recent evidence on the real-world effectiveness of nutrition labels and point-of-purchase information.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Food Standard Australia New Zealand
Daily intake guide
Guideline daily amount
Nutrition information panel
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
Rayner M, Wood A, Lawrence M, et al. Monitoring the health-related labelling of foods and non-alcoholic beverages in retail settings. Obes Rev. 2013;14 Suppl 1:70–81. This manuscript provides classification of point-of-purchase labelling and proposes monitoring framework.
Williams P. Consumer understanding and use of health claims for foods. Nutr Rev. 2005;63(7):256–64.
Hersey JC, Wohlgenant KC, Arsenault JE, et al. Effects of front-of-package and shelf nutrition labeling systems on consumers. Nutr Rev. 2013;71(1):1–14.
Schermel A, Emrich TE, Arcand J, et al. Nutrition marketing on processed food packages in Canada: 2010 Food Label Information Program. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2013;38(6):666–72.
Storcksdieck genannt Bonsmann S, Celemín L, Larrañaga A, et al. Penetration of nutrition information on food labels across the EU-27 plus Turkey. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010;64(12):1379–85.
European Food Information Council. Global update on nutrition labelling. Executive Summary. 2014. http://www.eufic.org/upl/1/default/doc/GlobalUpdateExecSumJan2014%2013%20Jan%202014_FINALwebSummary.pdf. Accessed 7 Jan 2015.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Review of the regulatory management of food allergens. 2010. http://www.foodstandards.govt.nz/consumer/foodallergies/review/documents/Review%20of%20the%20Regulatory%20Management%20of%20Food%20Allergens-FSANZ%20Dec%202010.pdf. Accessed 7 Jan 2015.
Vincent van Buul VJ, Fred Brouns FJ. Nutrition and health claims as marketing tools. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013. doi:10.1080/10408398.2012.754738.
Nocella G, Kennedy O. Food health claims – what consumers understand. Food Policy. 2012;37(5):571–80.
Campos S, Doxey J, Hammond D. Nutrition labels on pre-packaged foods: a systematic review. Public Health Nutr. 2011;14(8):1496–506.
Gortmaker SL, Swinburn BA, Levy D, et al. Changing the future of obesity: science, policy, and action. Lancet. 2011;378(9793):838–47.
Sacks G, Veerman JL, Moodie M, et al. ‘Traffic-light’ nutrition labelling and ‘junk-food’ tax: a modelled comparison of cost-effectiveness for obesity prevention. Int J Obes (Lond). 2011;35(7):1001–9.
van’t Riet J. Sales effects of product health information at points of purchase: a systematic review. Public Health Nutr. 2013;16(3):418–29.
Storcksdieck Genannt Bonsmann S, Wills JM. Nutrition labeling to prevent obesity: reviewing the evidence from Europe. Curr Obes Rep. 2012;1(3):134–40.
Sinclair SE, Cooper M, Mansfield ED. The influence of menu labeling on calories selected or consumed: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014;114:1375.e15–88.e15.
Swartz JJ, Braxton D, Viera AJ. Calorie menu labeling on quick-service restaurant menus: an updated systematic review of the literature. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2011;8:135.
Thorndike AN, Sonnenberg L, Riis J, et al. A 2-phase labeling and choice architecture intervention to improve healthy food and beverage choices. Am J Public Health. 2012;102(3):527–33.
Levy DE, Riis J, Sonnenberg LM, et al. Food choices of minority and low-income employees: a cafeteria intervention. Am J Prev Med. 2012;43(3):240–8.
Thorndike AN, Riis J, Sonnenberg LM, et al. Traffic-light labels and choice architecture: promoting healthy food choices. Am J Prev Med. 2014;46(2):143–9.
Arsenault JE, Singleton MC, Funderburk LK. Use of the go-for-green nutrition labeling system in military dining facilities is associated with lower fat intake. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014;114:1067–71.
Vyth EL, Steenhuis IHM, Heymans MW, et al. Influence of placement of a nutrition logo on cafeteria menu items on lunchtime food choices at Dutch work sites. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011;111:131–6.
Kiszko KM, Martinez OD, Abrams C, et al. The influence of calorie labelling on food orders and consumption: a review of the literature. J Community Health. 2014;39:1248–69.
Williams SL, Mummery KW. Characteristics of consumers using ‘better for you’ front-of-pack food labelling schemes - an example from the Australian Heart Foundation Tick. Public Health Nutr. 2013;16(12):2265–72.
Coleman KL, Miah EM, Morris GA, et al. Impact of health claims in prebiotic-enriched breads on purchase intent, emotional response and product liking. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2014;65(2):164–71.
Andrews CJ, Burton S, Kees J. Is simpler always better? Consumer evaluations of front-of-package nutrition symbols. J Publ Policy Market. 2011;30(2):175–90.
Hughes C, Wellard L, Lin J, et al. Regulating health claims on food labels using nutrient profiling: what will the proposed standard mean in the Australian supermarket? Public Health Nutr. 2013;16(12):2154–61.
Elbel B, Taksler GB, Mijanovich T, et al. Promotion of healthy eating through public policy: a controlled experiment. Am J Prev Med. 2013;45(1):49–55.
Rosentreter SC, Eyles H, Ni Mhurchu C. Traffic lights and health claims: a comparative analysis of the nutrient profile of packaged foods available for sale in New Zealand supermarkets. Aust N Z J Public Health. 2013;37(3):278–83.
Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code - Standard 1.2.7 - Nutrition, Health and Related Claims 2013; Available from: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Series/F2013L00054. Accessed 7 Jan 2015.
Sacks G, Rayner M, Swinburn B. Impact of front-of-pack ‘traffic-light’ nutrition labelling on consumer food purchases in the UK. Health Promot Int. 2009;24(4):344–52.
Sutherland LA, Kaley LA, Fischer L. Guiding stars: the effect of a nutrition navigation program on consumer purchases at the supermarket. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(4):1090s–4s.
Gregori D, Ballali S, Vögele C, et al. Evaluating food front-of-pack labelling: a pan-European survey on consumers’ attitudes toward food labelling. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2014;65(2):177–86.
Hieke S, Wilczynski P. Colour Me In - an empirical study on consumer responses to the traffic light signposting system in nutrition labelling. Public Health Nutr. 2012;15(5):773–82.
Vemula SR, Gavaravarapu SM, Mendu VV, et al. Use of food label information by urban consumers in India - a study among supermarket shoppers. Public Health Nutr. 2014;17(9):2104-14.
Watson WL, Chapman K, King L, et al. How well do Australian shoppers understand energy terms on food labels? Public Health Nutr. 2013;16(3):409–17.
Aschemann-Witzel J, Maroscheck N, Hamm U. Are organic consumers preferring or avoiding foods with nutrition and health claims? Food Qual Prefer. 2013;30(1):68–76.
Moon W, Balasubramanian SK, Rimal A. Health claims and consumers’ behavioural intentions: the case of soy-based food. Food Policy. 2011;36(4):480–9.
Wong CL, Arcand J, Mendoza J, et al. Consumer attitudes and understanding of low-sodium claims on food: an analysis of healthy and hypertensive individuals. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;97(6):1288–98.
Carter OB, Mills BW, Lloyd E, et al. An independent audit of the Australian food industry’s voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labelling scheme for energy-dense nutrition-poor foods. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013;67(1):31–5. This study explored a compliance of voluntary front-of-pack labels with existing guidelines, and association between presence of voluntary front-of-pack label with a product healthiness.
Williams PG. Auditing the Australian front-of-pack food labelling scheme. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013;67(10):1117.
Brownell KD, Koplan JP. Front-of-package nutrition labeling—an abuse of trust by the food industry? N Engl J Med. 2011;364(25):2373–5.
Guiding Stars: About. Available from: http://guidingstars.com/what-is-guiding-stars/. Accessed 7 Jan 2015.
Food Standards Agency. Front of pack nutritional signpost labelling: technical guidance. 2007. http://www.5aldia.org/datos/60/pdf_13_6051.pdf. Accessed 7 Jan 2015.
Draper AK, Adamson AJ, Clegg S, et al. Front-of-pack nutrition labelling: are multiple formats a problem for consumers? Eur J Public Health. 2013;23(3):517–21.
Hawley KL, Roberto CA, Bragg MA, et al. The science on front-of-package food labels. Public Health Nutr. 2013;16(3):430–9.
Bialkova S, Grunert KG, Juhl HJ, et al. Attention mediates the effect of nutrition label information on consumers’ choice. Evidence from a choice experiment involving eye-tracking. Appetite. 2014. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2013.11.021.
van Herpen E, Hieke S, van Trijp HC. Inferring product healthfulness from nutrition labelling: the influence of reference points. Appetite. 2014;72:138–49.
Maubach N, Hoek J, Mather D. Interpretive front-of-pack nutrition labels: comparing competing recommendations. Appetite. 2014. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2014.07.006.
Aschemann-Witzel J, Grunert KG, van Trijp HC, et al. Effects of nutrition label format and product assortment on the healthfulness of food choice. Appetite. 2013;71C:63–74.
Rahkovski I, Lin B-H, Lin C-TJ, et al. Effects of the Guiding Stars Program on purchases of ready-to-eat cereals with different nutritional attributes. Food Policy. 2013;43:100–7. This study assessed impact of an interpretive labelling scheme on food sales in real retail environment.
Cawley J, Sweeney MJ, Sobal J, et al. The impact of a supermarket nutrition rating system on purchases of nutritious and less nutritious foods. Public Health Nutr. 2014. doi:10.1017/S1368980014001529.
Sacks G, Tikellis K, Millar L, et al. Impact of ‘traffic-light’ nutrition information on online food purchases in Australia. Aust N Z J Public Health. 2011;35(2):122–6.
Van Camp D, de Souza Monteiro DM, Hooker NH. Stop or go? How is the UK food industry responding to front-of-pack nutrition labels? Eur Rev Agric Econ. 2012;39(5):821–42.
McLean R, Hoek J. Sodium and nutrition labelling: a qualitative study exploring New Zealand consumers’ food purchasing behaviours. Public Health Nutr. 2014;17(5):1138–46.
Babio N, Vicent P, López L, et al. Adolescents’ ability to select healthy food using two different front-of-pack food labels: a cross-over study. Public Health Nutr. 2013. doi:10.1017/S1368980013001274.
McLean R, Hoek J, Hedderley D. Effects of alternative label formats on choice of high- and low-sodium products in a New Zealand population sample. Public Health Nutr. 2012;15(5):783–91.
Méjean C, Macouillard P, Péneau S, et al. Perception of front-of-pack labels according to social characteristics, nutritional knowledge and food purchasing habits. Public Health Nutr. 2013;16(3):392–402.
Roberto CA, Bragg MA, Seamans MJ, et al. Evaluation of consumer understanding of different front-of-package nutrition labels, 2010-2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2012;9:120015.
Watson WL, Kelly B, Hector D, et al. Can front-of-pack labelling schemes guide healthier food choices? Australian shoppers’ responses to seven labelling formats. Appetite. 2014;72:90–7.
Koenigstorfer J, Wąsowicz-Kiryło G, Styśko-Kunkowska M, et al. Behavioural effects of directive cues on front-of-package nutrition information: the combination matters! Public Health Nutr. 2013. doi:10.1017/S136898001300219X.
Goodman S, Hammond D, Hanning R, et al. The impact of adding front-of-package sodium content labels to grocery products: an experimental study. Public Health Nutr. 2013;16(3):383–91.
Guide to creating a front of pack (FoP) nutrition label for pre-packed products sold through retail outlets. 2013. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/300886/2902158_FoP_Nutrition_2014.pdf. Accessed 7 Jan 2015.
Health Star Rating – new food labelling system. Ministry for Primary Industries.2014; Available from: http://www.foodsafety.govt.nz/industry/general/labelling-composition/health-star-rating/. Accessed 7 Jan 2015.
Ekaterina Volkova and Cliona Ni Mhurchu are supported by a Health Research Council of New Zealand programme grant (13/724).
Compliance with Ethics Guidelines
Conflict of Interest
Ekaterina Volkova and Cliona Ni Mhurchu declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
This article is part of the Topical Collection on Etiology of Obesity
About this article
Cite this article
Volkova, E., Ni Mhurchu, C. The Influence of Nutrition Labeling and Point-of-Purchase Information on Food Behaviours. Curr Obes Rep 4, 19–29 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13679-014-0135-6
- Point-of-purchase information
- Nutrition labeling
- Nutrition policy
- Front-of-pack nutrition labels
- Purchase behaviour